There’s many ways of saving money while traveling, and after years on the road I’ve quite a collection of tips and pointers. There’s some things you shouldn’t cheap out on, of course, like footwear and a good all-weather jacket (Feel free to leave comments here if you find a brand that’s so good you want to share it with fellow travelers!), but other things are pure gimmicks, and once you add them up they can amount to a massive drain on the wallet AND lead to a seriously overstuffed backpack or suitcase.
This is my attempt to re-pack in a hostel in London. It happens a lot on a longer trip, so don’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose!
Take neck pillows.
What, I hear you say, but everyone has a neck pillow when they travel, don’t they?
Why yes, yes they do. And I have nothing against neck pillows, I just don’t think anyone should be spending 20£/$/€ on them when they can make one that’s practically free!
How, you ask? Read on, my friends, read on!
Okay, so there is one thing you should never leave home without, and that is…
Clear plastic Ziploc Bags!
Preferally double zipped, but single works in a pinch. I usually have a selection of Medium and Large (several Medium, just a few Large – and these should be as large as you can find them. I’ll get back to why in another blog post, but trust me on this.), they are super useful! Not just to put your liquids in for extra protection (the one time I forgot, I had a shampoo explosion and ended up having to search for a shop in Rome that sold plus sized clothes to replace some unsalvageable pieces. Do you know how tiny Italian women are??? I did end up finding one in the end, but it took an entire day and ended up being waaaaay expensive, not to mention having to endure the snooty women who worked there who were clearly not used to dealing with backpackers who practically had a heart attack every time I checked the price tag of an item of clothing. I don’t recommend it. Put your liquids in bags!), but they can also be used to put your phone or camera in if you’re going somewhere wet (there was a river in Lithuania, there was a kayak, there was a low hanging branch and there was an unscheduled swim followed by a million mosquitoes. But my phone survived! Ziploc bag to the rescue!).
That’s not me in the picture, it’s a passenger of mine from the same kayaking trip where I took my surprise swim. I couldn’t reach her to get permission to use her as my model so I put a heart over her face. Cause I love my passengers! <3<3<3
But what about neck pillows, I hear you bellow. I’m getting to it, honest!
You see, a ziploc bag can quite easily be inflated. Zip it closed MOST of the way, but leave a finger-wide gap which you then breathe into. Close the last little gap before all the air escapes (but some air is fine, you don’t want it rock hard), and voila. A pillow! Just wrap it up in a t-shirt or scarf, and you’re good to go. It’s as comfortable as a regular neck pillow, it weights next to nothing, it is practically free, and if you have a double-zipped ziploc bag of decent quality then it will last the night with minimal air-leakage. Great if you’re stuck at an airport, if you’re taking a long coach, bus or train ride, or if you just don’t trust the stains on the pillow in your hostel…
And, if the seal breaks or there’s a tear in the plastic, don’t just throw it out, you can still use it (plus, we are responsible travelers who don’t throw out plastic when we can avoid it. Right? RIGHT??). Simply stuff a shirt or two in there, wrap another around it, and you can still use it as a pillow. It won’t be quite as comfy as the inflated version, you may find yourself waking up feeling like…
Mornings are not my thing, guys. Some are rougher than others but they all basically suck!
Anyway, in a pinch it will see you through.
Good tip? Want more? I hope you find this helpful, leave a comment or question below. I’d also love to see your photos of your home-made ziplock pillows in action!